Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach up and died
And lost the lease where her business thrived.
Gone, where Joyce was well supported,
Gone but not entirely forgotted.
A man who claims to be
The grandson of Walt Whitman, he
Bought old Beach's library
and moved it to a Seine-side quay
And opened what you see today
with the original name and company.

Three times we set out for this place
And twice returned in sad disgrace.
The first search ended carefreely
The second, soaked and melancholy.
The third, a charm, on Metro train,
We found the place in spite of rain.
Both outside and inside the place
Sylvia's library's in disgrace
With water pouring over books
Written and signed by expatriates.

I bought a Joyce, a Blake or two
And spent less time than I'd planned to.
Yes, I was cold and slightly damp
and holding that dripping umbrella had given me a cramp,
But nothing like the cramp that time
leaves the library left behind.

In my life I admit that books
Have somehow given me friendly looks.
At Kilometer Zero I realized
That if my books are really alive,
Then they may keep me company
While I am here, then follow me.

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